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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 21 September 1995) . . Page.. 1638 ..

I note from the media that two economists who were on the ABC on Tuesday and Thursday were pretty impressed with the budget. When David Hughes was asked by the compere, “Could I finally ask you for a score out of 10. What would you give it?”, he said, “Seven”. David Chessell said, “I would be more generous; I would give it a conditional nine out of 10 - conditional on coming back in three years’ time and seeing that it has actually been delivered, and if they actually do it I think that it would be wonderful”.

Ms McRae: Ask a person on the average wage what they think about the budget.

MR STEFANIAK: A person on the average wage would probably be out of a job if you mob were in here for another three years. Who else could get rid of the Consolidated Fund, which I think when Mr Kaine was around was about $160m? You were down to zero. That is unbelievable. What a dreadful state to leave the Territory in. We have had a great amount of difficulty in trying to pick it up.

I think the Chief Minister and the Government generally are to be commended on what is a most sensible budget. It is not the horror budget you anticipated; it is a very good budget. The criticism, Mr Moore, has been that education should not have been quarantined as it has been. Most of the criticism I have had is on why it was quarantined. It was quarantined because of this election promise, which we have in fact maintained.

Mrs Carnell: How much more did we say in our policy we would spend on education?

MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Chief Minister. The policy says:

This will amount to an increase of approximately $7 million in the 1995-96 Budget.

There is $7.77m additional given. Even if you do not take that $7.5m, or whatever it was, that went to Children's Services, it is $206.6m. It is more, in fact, than just the $7.7m. It is actually a very good budget.

The previous Government did not fund the wage rise. It did not ask for any productivity gains either, which would have been really handy back in November in terms of the pay rise given to the Education Union. It did not ask for any productivity gains at all. The education budget this year and going out to 1997-98 has supplementation amounting to some $20.3m. As well, education has not been required to meet any specific savings target, as other areas have.

Ms McRae: So they are just cutting for the fun of it.

MR STEFANIAK: As you should know, Ms McRae, if you ask a few people in education, even when you lot were in you were making some cuts and you were trying to make the department more efficient. That obviously is ongoing. We have made a commitment. We have a money cap, which we will live within. It is a generous budget. I think departmental officials realise that. Certainly the community realises that, and most of the comments in the media say that maybe it is too generous. But we have delivered on our promise.

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